Several weeks ago an entrepreneur asked me for introductions to a few investors in town. After qualifying his startup, I happily obliged and introduced him to the most appropriate people for his company. Later, a different entrepreneur asked for an introduction to a specific venture capitalist that I didn’t know. As neither one of us had a connection to this person I offered a solution: research the investor’s portfolio of companies, provide one or more qualified leads or candidates to them, and then ask for an intro. The best way to get access to a person is to give value first.
Here are a few reasons to engage a VC via helping his or her portfolio companies:
- VCs don’t read business plans — they look at deals that are personally referred from trusted third-parties
- VCs are in the business of knowing a large number of people, especially people that work at their portfolio companies, so portfolio companies typically have a number of first-party connections
- Helping grow a portfolio company’s sales pipeline and potentially growing revenue directly helps the VC’s goal of making the company successful
- Qualified leads and qualified job candidates are two of the most valuable introductions for a startup
So, the next time you hear an entrepreneur ask about an introduction to a VC, tell them to figure out how to provide value first to a direct connection and then make the ask for an intro.
What else? What are some other thoughts on getting access to a VC by first helping a portfolio company?